Trump says he is suspending immigration, Southern governors ease coronavirus restrictions, and oil hits new low

President Trump says he is putting a temporary halt on U.S. immigration "in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy."
Image: Migrants in the "Remain in Mexico" program walk on the Paso del Norte International Bridge to reschedule their immigration hearings amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Migrants in the "Remain in Mexico" program wait to reschedule their immigration hearings amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Monday.Paul Ratje / Reuters

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump says he's putting a temporary halt on all immigration to the United States, oil prices reach a new low and who is actually behind many of the "grassroots" anti-quarantine Facebook events.

Here's what we're watching this Tuesday morning.


Trump says he's suspending U.S. immigration because of 'attack from the Invisible Enemy'

President Trump said late Monday that he is suspending immigration to the United States by executive order in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the "need to protect jobs."

In a tweet Monday night, the president attributed the suspension to an "attack from the Invisible Enemy" and the "need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens."

White House officials offered few additional details Monday night.

Immigration to the U.S. has already functionally shut down as a result of the pandemic. The Trump administration had closed the U.S.-Canada border and started deporting asylum-seekers and other migrants on the southern border without due process. International air travel has largely been suspended.

But immigration has long been an issue that energizes the president's core supporters, and Monday night's tweet will undoubtedly be no different.

Immigration advocates and activists criticized Trump's announcement, calling the move radical and unprecedented.

"Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1," Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted on Monday. "And now, he's shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda."

Here are some other major developments:

  • "Our citizens are ready": Several Southern governors have begun loosening restrictions put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus. South Carolina will allow beaches and retail stores to reopen today, while the governors of Georgia and Tennessee announced plans to ease restrictions.
  • Meantime, Italy, which has been ravaged by coronavirus and has the highest death toll in Europe, is tiptoeing toward restarting its economy.
  • Congressional negotiations on an interim coronavirus aid bill to further help small businesses and hospitals hit a snag Monday as Democrats continued to push for money for state and local governments.
  • Nearly 42,000 people have been killed in the United States by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to NBC News' count.
  • Check out our live blog for the latest updates.
  • See maps of where the virus has spread in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • Watch the news with your kids: See "Nightly News: Kids Edition" at 4 p.m. ET today with Lester Holt.

Conservative activist family behind 'grassroots' anti-quarantine Facebook events

Protests against state stay-at-home orders have attracted a wide range of fringe activists and ardent Trump supporters.

They have also attracted a family of political activists whom some Republican lawmakers have called "scam artists."

A family-run network of pro-gun groups is behind five of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to protesting the shelter-in-place restrictions, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook groups and website registration information.

The groups were set up by four brothers — Chris, Ben, Aaron and Matthew Dorr — and have amassed more than 200,000 members collectively, including in states where they don't reside.

This sort of Facebook activity allows for a small group with money and media manipulation skills to simulate the appearance of a much larger movement, one expert said.


'This is a great time to buy oil,' Trump says as prices plunge into negative territory

U.S. crude oil prices dropped by almost 300 percent to turn negative for the first time as plunging demand pushed storage facilities to their limits.

May delivery for the U.S. benchmark crude, West Texas Intermediate, sank to a new low of minus $37.63 a barrel by the close of the oil market Monday, a staggering level that essentially means producers would be paying buyers to take oil off their hands.

Oil set to be delivered in May was hit hardest, because that futures contract expires Tuesday. The June contract also fell, although by a far smaller amount, 18 percent.

After the tumultuous day, Trump suggested the U.S. could either purchase roughly 75 million barrels of oil to add to the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or rent that spare capacity to oil companies squeezed for storage space due to the glut in the market.

“This is a great time to buy oil. We'd get it for the right price," Trump said at a coronavirus task force news briefing on Monday night. "Nobody's ever heard of negative oil before."


'It's coming for you': Detroit 5-year-old dies of coronavirus; parents try to warn others

Two first responders in Detroit who lost their young daughter to the coronavirus hope their grief can be used to warn others to take the pandemic seriously.

Skylar Herbert, 5, was a little girl who loved to dance and dreamed of being a pediatric dentist one day. She was bubbly and feisty and never let fear stop her from trying something new, her parents said.

She is believed to be the youngest person in Michigan to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus.

"This is something that has gotten out of hand, and we need to do something about it," her father Ebbie Herbert, a firefighter, said.


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Quote of the day

"This is like everyone is talking about D-Day but they don't know if they have ships, soldiers or support. But all everyone is talking about is when is [the date] of D-Day."

— Alessandro Vespignani, an Italian American physicist and expert on mathematical epidemiology at Northeastern University in Boston, on Italy's push to reopen the economy.


One resourceful thing

A bar on New York City's Lower East Side has transformed itself into a grocery story to try to ride out the coronavirus lockdown.

The Forgtmenot bar has now been renamed the FMN General Store and has gone from serving cocktails to selling ketchup.

"It's just been about trying to stay alive. Trying to keep something going. Trying to help people out in the neighborhood," said Derek Tigue, one of the bar's managing partners.

And customers can still buy a beer or cocktail to-go. Cheers to that!


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

Please send me any comments or questions you have on the newsletter: petra@nbcuni.com

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra